Cell phones are deeply ingrained into North American culture in the present time. Children learn how to operate cell phones while they are still in diapers. It is likely that nothing will slow down the pervasiveness of cell phones save for an apocalypse. Millennials are the final generation to live in a cell phone free world. But how did this obsession with cell phones begin? The answer is, with painstaking effort.
Motorola engineer Martin Cooper has the distinct honor of being the first man ever to place a cell phone call in 1973. He was in a public race with a rival to be the first to invent one. Since then, the concept of a cell phone has taken on a number of new shapes.
Cell phones were not available for purchase until the mid 1980’s when the United States Federal Communications Commission approved mobile phones for public use, and when they did become available, their price tag was overwhelmingly high. Their technology was cutting edge for the time, but laughable by today’s standards. Mobile phones weighed almost an entire kilogram and had a battery life of eight hours.
These monolithic cell phones were used until the early 1990’s, becoming more portable in size and weight, but retaining the same basic features. In 1993, the world’s first smart phone was introduced, complete with features such as a keypad, e-mail and a pager. In 2002, camera features were introduced into cell phone technology, shortly followed by cell phone internet capabilities in 2003.
At this point, cell phones were already beginning to replace land-lines for voice communication technology. As people embraced more and more the ease of having a communications device on them at all times, the traditional home phone became outdated. The moment when the world was overtaken by smart phone technology was in 2007 when Apple introduced its first iPhone. No one had ever seen a phone, wireless communication device and digital music storage unit combined into one piece of technology. Owning a smart phone became a status symbol, and then became commonplace. Thus began the phenomenon that would lead to cell phone addiction.